For years we’ve done our best to bring the global issue of Climate Change to you at the local level as we increasingly see the effects of what we should now call Climate Disruption right here where we live.
At the global level, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its sixth report on Climate Change a few days ago and the bottom line is that the time for business as usual is over. We are on a trajectory now that will affect our lives in unprecedented ways, not in the far future, but in the next few years. Droughts, fires, storms and floods will get worse. Ambient temperature and ocean temperatures will rise. With each IPCC report the news is increasingly dire and the effects are coming at us faster than predicted. The UN has called it Code Red for Humanity — a sobering term.
At the local level, here in Chesapeake country, sea level rise will cause more and more flooding. Acidification of the oceans will likely affect marine life in the Bay. Everything is changing IN OUR LIFETIMES.
The IPCC report underscores how interconnected we are on this planet. Sea levels will rise here because ice is melting in far-away Greenland. Our days are getting hotter here because forests are being destroyed in other far-away places like the Amazon.
Earlier this week Senator Chris Van Hollen came to Annapolis to assure Mayor Gavin Buckley and County Executive Steuart Pittman that federal money will be coming our way for mitigation projects such as raising the City Dock area another six feet. He also announced introduction of his Polluters Pay Climate Fund Act that will “require the largest U.S.-based fossil fuel extractors and oil refiners and foreign-owned companies doing business in the U.S. to pay into a Polluters Pay Climate Fund based on a percentage of their global emissions. The Fund would then be used to finance a wide range of efforts to tackle climate change.” Read The Capital story on the visit.
There is hope.
The IPCC report is not all doom and gloom. It also states that there is still a little bit of time for the nations of the world to get together and act. Political leaders must be made to understand that this crisis transcends borders and politics. It is about our own self-interest and, frankly, survival of some semblance of the life we know now.
While the big steps to pull us off the brink of Climate Catastrophe have to be taken by governments and pollution emitting corporations, we can all influence what happens with our wallets and our pens.
First, be informed. There is information about Climate Change everywhere. Annapolis Green’s environmental book club, Green Reads is currently reading The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail. That, along with another book we read, The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac are good places to start.
Second, take small steps in your life that protect the Earth. Reduce your use of plastic as much as possible. Drink water from the tap — not from single plastic bottles. Use cloth instead of paper to clean your house. Take your own bottle to the coffee shop. Grow some of your own food — maybe just one tomato plant in a pot. Compost your food scraps and feed your garden with compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Don’t use pesticides; they kill beneficial insects and are harmful to your own health. Eat less meat or none at all. Plant natives. Buy shampoo in cakes instead of plastic bottles. Drive an electric car. Plant native trees. Support organizations that are taking action.
You’ve heard all this from us before. Be willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of the planet.
Third, write! Let your representatives know that our planet is important to you: “You want my vote? Support the environment.” Write to corporations to tell them that you will NOT buy their products because they are over-packaged in plastic. Tell your favorite winemaker who uses plastic stoppers instead of cork that you won’t buy that wine again because the Earth is drowning in plastic. And if all of this writing is in social media posts too, even better.
We can all do something. Big movements have small actions at their core. Think of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and how that movement changed our culture. Here’s a heartwarming story about a young shepherd in Belgium who is doing his small part.
We can all do something. We have to. We are at Code Red.